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RM308 and The Mysteries of Mesoamerica


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#41 moonbeast

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 05:46 PM

Some people I know now automatically treat anything to do with Miskatonic as a joke because they associate it so much with that sort of stuff (silly Mythos-related departments, team names and the like). That's what damages the genre. Some were put off the recent(ish) 'Miskatonic University' sourcebook because they assumed from its subject and its rather cartoony cover that it was full of this sort of rubbish and wasn't a serious CoC book. I don't think that works in favour of the game, the genre or Chaosium.


How was that book? I never saw it. Did it include Fighting Cephalopods, or a Dept. of Medieval Metaphysics (or other silliness)?

Doc


The book, IMHO, is actually very well written. The content is on par with what a Lovecraft-inspired Wanna-be Ivy League university should be. The tone is moderately serious. The NPCs are all there as we know them and expect them to be (from prior HPL sources).... like Dr. Henry Armitage.

No fruity Fighting Cephalopods (that's just a stupid name). They went with a more typical New England mascot: the Badger.

The Department of Medieval Metaphysics is a YES and NO inclusion:

#1) In the official Listing of Programs and Academic Departments, it does not exist. This is in the section for generating first-time MU students and their majors, stats, etc. It is not a selectable Academic Major or discipline.... such as say... Law, Business, Literature, Nursing, or Medicine.

#2) But apparently, there is still a class taught regarding Medieval Metaphysics. The Arab-Turkish-like named professor, Dr. Omar Something is the lone instructor. It's written there that he does teach the class from time to time. Altho since he is nothing more than a visiting professor from Turkey, the Metaphysics studies itself seems transient. It might be there one semester, and then gone the next. And that students such as Asenath Waite are the ilk that have been drawn to such a class. The MM issue could easily be ignored by the Keeper.

The rest of the book is good. The campus environs is well-drawn, and even the neighboring streets, shops and businesses are well done. For example, there is a small tiny garage mechanic shop right across the street from University. The students/investigators can have their motorcycles, bicycles, or automobile flat tires fixed there if needed. But then, it's also closed on Sundays. Well... you know... New England Sabbath Day tradition and all that. The little things like that did enhance the overall mood.

The description of the Underground Tunnels below the Miskatonic University (and really below most of Arkham) is a valuable element. And the fact that there are secret tunnel entrances in places like..... the Temporary Morgue underneath the University Teaching Hospital (next to the medical school) .... it just harkens back to HPL's brilliant works such as Herbert West the Re-animator. It leaves many possibilities for the Keeper, from ghoul lairs to zombies to necromantic re-animation scenarios.

And yes, the cover is misleading. The cover portrays some silliness, and it makes you think that the Miskatonic University sourcebook is going to be Lovecraft Meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


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#42 doccthulhu

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 06:58 PM

For what it's worth, I like the way the Medieval Metaphysics problem was handled, IMHO, of course.

I agree, the cover didn't do much for me. And didn't look at all the correct time period.

Doc

#43 AndreasDavour

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 12:12 AM

I think a lot of the newer covers have been a bit cartoon-ish so I try to ignore them and learn a bit about the stuff insides instead, from reviews and such.

#44 ProfSpender

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 12:45 AM

Actually, Miscatonic University might even be described as scholarly. The authors explains his resoning in speculations from HPL's stories (such as why Armitage is never mentioned again after "The Dunwich Horror"), he is explicit about what he took from Herber, what from Antunes in giving a consitent organisational structure of the university, he includes many established NPCs like Jason Gaspard and Basil Ives. There is more based on Derleth than I really care for, but it is not too intrusive.
Anyway, I myself would probably buy any book that would credit me as one of the co-authors, even if the cover is campy. Especially if the cover is campy.

I also rather like the humorous elements of the Cthulhu Mythos and its incarnations, even though Cthulhu's alledged fixation on eating humans is annoying. But after all, they tell us what not to do in the game. ("Your investigator is dead! And insane!") I can't see that CoC books have become worse than they used to be (even though, of course, the early 90s were the Golden Age of RPG books). I wonder if bringing in foreign language products (like Pegasus', obviously) can help shedding light on this matter.

Given that is now is in Pagan's hands, how certain is that 2008 release date for MoM?

#45 Blackmyron

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 05:04 AM

For what it's worth, I like the way the Medieval Metaphysics problem was handled, IMHO, of course.

I agree, the cover didn't do much for me. And didn't look at all the correct time period.

Doc

??? I thought it was you that originally referred to the coursework in "Medieval Metaphysics". Let me dig out my copy of Arkham Unveiled...
Yep, on p. 62:
"Dr. Shalad is presently teaching a special course in medieval metaphysics, with emphasis on the difficulties of translation from Arabic originals, that numbers Asenath Waite among its most interested students."
The volume was a nice combination of the depictions in Arkham Unveiled and the original Miskatonic University sourcebook, with new material. My only complaint was that the original MU was clearly set in 1920 - not everything has to be set in 1928 in Lovecraft Country...
The first Chaosium product I bought was the Miskatonic University Graduation Kit back in 1989. I never considered it to be a "canonical" work in the sense of the larger RPG, although I was glad to see the recent Miskatonic University sourcebook did salvage some of the non-silly bits from it. Compared to some of the Mythos fiction out at the time it was downright staid. If anything, I've found that CoC has been more faithful in its depictions of HPL's Mythos in the overall sense, IMHO - although that may be more due to the influence of a few key individuals than anything else...

#46 Cthulhus_voicemail

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 05:36 AM

I would just like to say that the Miskatonic University sourcebook made me look at my own campus a little bit differently...that twisted pine we so affectionately call the Seuss Spruce looks rather a lot like a tentacle...
Curiosity killed the cat, Herbert West brought it back.

#47 trancejeremy

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 08:46 AM

While I really don't like the Cthulhu plush dolls and silly stuff, I think that the Mythos, even just HPL's stuff, just isn't that serious sometimes.

I mean, you have a lot of inside references to his friends. Like him and Robert Blake killing off each other. References to Clark Ashton Smith like he's famous and then to him as "Klarkash-Ton".

But beyond that, the real trouble is Cthulhu himself. He's just not very scary. He's basically a squid-headed Kaiju (ie, big monster like Godzilla).

There is genuinely creepy stuff in some mythos stories - The Dunwich Horror with Yog-Sothoth's spawn; At the Mountains of Madness with the shoggoths.

But at the same time, I think the game made some entities more sinister than portrayed in Lovecraft. The Yithians seem fairly benign, just curious more than anything else. The Mi-Go don't seem too troublesome, apparently unwilling to kill a nosey human (just harassing him at first to get him to move away), yet they are major amoral villains in CoC.

#48 cpt_machine

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 09:28 AM

Well I would say that if you dont like the mythos songs, the comics strips and the plushies then simply dont consume that medium, its called self censorship.

I am sorry to say I that I disagree with NyarlathotepScribe on this one, while I understand where your coming from and I respect you opnion, I dont agree with it. I feel that if you were to take the vanilla work of HPL then anything beyond that detracts from the horror he wrote about. Considering the Call of Cthulhu game, its has always been the subject of jokes in gaming circles, from the comics in the back (I thik that was 4th or 5th edition) to the constant table chatter of burning books, walking into rooms with your eyes closed and going insane in fresh and amusing ways. The sattire of the mythos (plushies, songs, comics, etc...) is just a development of that mindset, there is a market out there or people wouldnt make this stuff. I personally love it, you have to make fun of what your affaid of to make it consumeable...

As for you decision to end productions of your works, I have no issue with that, it'll be a shame to miss out of them, I for one had not heard about these items until this news popped up so I realise I may be out of the loop somewhat. However I dont agree with is some of the people on here who are suddenlly anti-satire when some of them comsume this medium as much as the rest of us because NyarlathotepScribe doesnt like it.

Well I better stop before I offend someone...

#49 justadame

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 11:32 AM

I'll certainly look out for Mysteries of Mesoamerica, when it comes out.

What time period is it planned to be set in ? (1920's, 1990's, mix ?)

Personally, I would just use the elements of the sourcebooks that fit in with my view of the Mythos, that helps to keep the Players guessing.

Mythos creatures can have quite complicated motivations (if the Keeper wants) and don't have to automatically attempt to kill/eat the PC's..........

Wasn't the insignificance of Humanity a key theme in HPL's writing ? So, some Mythos beasties would be inclined to just ignore the puny PC's rather than waste time on them.

Who would believe their wild tales anyway ?

:lol:
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#50 doccthulhu

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 03:28 PM

??? I thought it was you that originally referred to the coursework in "Medieval Metaphysics". Let me dig out my copy of Arkham Unveiled...
Yep, on p. 62:
"Dr. Shalad is presently teaching a special course in medieval metaphysics, with emphasis on the difficulties of translation from Arabic originals, that numbers Asenath Waite among its most interested students."


:oops:

Well, there's old age for you. At least I didn't embarass myself by saying it sucked. :)

Doc

#51 Mograg

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 03:54 PM

Doc,

Nothing you wrote sucked. In fact, just the opposite. Your words for Call of Cthulhu are worth their weight in gold. And I still must buy you that beer.

- Brian C.

#52 doccthulhu

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 04:06 PM

Mmmm...beer.

Doc

#53 sglancy12

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 03:02 AM

Just in case it hasn't been made 100% clear, let me reiterate:

Pagan Publishing has accepted Room 308's offer to publish Mysteries of MesoAmerica. When the layout and art is completed, and that may be a matter of just a month or two, we will be sending it off to the printer. Money is not going to be an issue with this project.

We are going to be soliciting our distributors this week for Mysteries of MesoAmerica, Delta Green: Eyes Only, Final Flight and Bumps in the Night. It could be a very busy year.

Yes, we'll update our website and get some preview art up soon. Blair Reynolds already sent us a disk full of artwork for just that purpose.
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#54 GofnnHupadgh

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 04:48 AM

"I'll certainly look out for Mysteries of Mesoamerica, when it comes out.

What time period is it planned to be set in ? (1920's, 1990's, mix ?)"

Mysteries of Mesoamerica is basically set in the classical period. There are four scenarios set in 1914, 1923, 1925, and 1927. Blair's artwork that some of you may have seen on the Room 308 website before he took it down are just partials of the full illos that will be in the book - teases of the full horror.

Now, since Scott announced about Final Flight and Bumps in the Night, I hope everyone will see the amazing cover art that Rick Sardinha did for these two books soon.
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#55 Dr_Zarnak

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 07:41 AM

Two questions:

Will Blair Reynolds be contributing any artwork to future Pagan publications?

Will Pagan be using the "Ransom" method for its future projects?

#56 GofnnHupadgh

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 12:00 AM

Two questions:

Will Blair Reynolds be contributing any artwork to future Pagan publications?

Will Pagan be using the "Ransom" method for its future projects?


To answer question one, I EXTREMELY hope so!!!

To answer question two, if it helps to complete the project - why not? :)
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#57 sufirjp

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 04:24 AM

Okay, I'll bite:

What is Final Flight?

Also, is the Eyes Only project mentioned above the same as on Dennis Detwiller's site? Further, is this another reprint of Vol. 1-3 or is it a new compilation of chapbooks, as mentioned as a possibility in the yog-sothoth.com video interview?

#58 gloomhound

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:41 AM

While I really don't like the Cthulhu plush dolls and silly stuff, I think that the Mythos, even just HPL's stuff, just isn't that serious sometimes.

I mean, you have a lot of inside references to his friends. Like him and Robert Blake killing off each other. References to Clark Ashton Smith like he's famous and then to him as "Klarkash-Ton".

But beyond that, the real trouble is Cthulhu himself. He's just not very scary. He's basically a squid-headed Kaiju (ie, big monster like Godzilla).

There is genuinely creepy stuff in some mythos stories - The Dunwich Horror with Yog-Sothoth's spawn; At the Mountains of Madness with the shoggoths.

But at the same time, I think the game made some entities more sinister than portrayed in Lovecraft. The Yithians seem fairly benign, just curious more than anything else. The Mi-Go don't seem too troublesome, apparently unwilling to kill a nosey human (just harassing him at first to get him to move away), yet they are major amoral villains in CoC.


Dead on my friend. Here is the truth about CoC...The real villains are the humans.

#59 Evans

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 12:27 PM

To be honest it's the very ambivalence of creatures like the Mi Go I rather like. It seems to give it a more alien feel.

#60 Max Schreck

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 06:05 AM

But beyond that, the real trouble is Cthulhu himself. He's just not very scary. He's basically a squid-headed Kaiju (ie, big monster like Godzilla).


Sing it, brother! That's what I've been saying for years, but would anybody listen? Noooo....

I actually agree with Blair as far as the Mythos being too silly goes, but where I disagree is when the silliness started. As has already been mentioned, the ludicrousness of Cthulhu & Co. didn't just spring up with plush Cthulhus and Cthulhu bumper stickers. The absurdity and ridiculousness is inherent in the genre, and was already part of it in the '20s and 30's, when HPL and others wrote. Why do you think they got published in cheap pulp magazines? Because no one else would touch their drivel.

I have never quite understood why people laugh knowingly and ironically at 1950's horror and SF involving 50 foot women and giant ants and floating brains, when they at the same time laud Lovecraft as the "baroque prince of horror", even though these laughable monstrosities have their counterparts in Lovecraft's fiction. What really is the difference between the creature from the Black Lagoon and a Deep One?

Lovecraft's creations are the precursors of those laughable matinée horrors. Lovecraft's stories are in the worst cases sensationalist stories about rubber monsters with zippers down their backs, and the best cases E. A. Poe pastiches.

All this being said, I still love CoC, but I have no illusions regarding the source material. It was written in another era with other sensibilities, and holds no horror for me. As such I can't see why tacky Lumley-esque fiction and plush dolls should make it worse, as it was already pretty bad to begin with. What I actually find is that the CoC game has actually managed sometimes to produce RPG products of noteworthy quality despite its poor source material, but I increasingly feel that the best of CoC is usually the material that re-invents the Mythos or adds something new, rather than the "traditional" Mythos stuff.
I am sick to death of inbred fishing villages, Deep Ones, Mi-Go's and ghoul-infested graveyards. I find that I am increasingly just using CoC as a base for cosmic horror roleplaying, and not for the specific background per se.

Enough belly-aching from me. Maybe Cthulhu's age is just starting to show. To me, ol' squidhead has grown as familiar, harmless and laughable as Bela Lugosi's Dracula. Maybe the plush dolls actually had something to do with that.

Cheerio,

Max
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